In what is becoming almost an annual event, though hardly the celebratory kind, Ubisoft has announced it is closing the servers for a bunch of the publisher's older titles. In the past Ubisoft has somewhat messed-up the messaging on such things, leaving players under the false impression that the affected titles would become unplayable, but now it's being clear that its "decommissioning" will only affect the online side of these titles, and you'll still be able to play the singleplayer elements.
The language does, however, remain overly euphemistic, and the publisher still insists that these decisions are "a necessity as the technology that drove those services has grown obsolete." I don't buy that rationale and would much rather Ubisoft said "Hey, no-one's playing these things anymore and it costs money to keep them running, so say Sayonara," but perhaps the reaction to that would be even worse.
The "decommissioning" takes effect on January 25, 2024, and here are the games affected on PC plus one Mac title as a treat (there's also a handful of Xbox 360 and PS3 games):
- Assassin's Creed Brotherhood (Mac)
- Assassin's Creed Revelations
- Ghost Recon Future Soldier
- Heroes of Might and Magic VI
- Splinter Cell: Conviction
- Trials Evolution
"Rest assured that the decommissioning of online services will only affect certain online functionalities," says Ubisoft. "If you purchased these games, you will still be able to play them."
Not much consolation when it comes to something like R.U.S.E., an imaginative multiplayer war game built around the idea of fooling your opponent with feints and decoys as well as building a strong army. Trials Evolution also jumps out at me, excuse the pun, because in that case the online functionality is leaderboards and sharing community creations, the latter in particular being a large element of the game. There are, at least, newer Trials games.
Nevertheless these are older titles and, while I had fun running around shanking people in Assassin's Creed Revelations' multiplayer mode, it seems unlikely to be a thriving hotbed of players 12 years after release.
All of these games are at least 10 years old, which does seem to be the point where Ubisoft starts thinking about ending support, and no doubt don't see enough online activity to justify the cost of keeping the servers active. There is the more philosophical side of this as well as the sadness of seeing aspects of some pretty great games permanently disappear, once expressed in a 2019 multiplayer project called Dustnet: this is built around the idea of the impermanence of multiplayer game spaces, and puts all players in the 'final' de_dust2 server where they can add and create things. But if that server is ever vacant, everything gets wiped. It's still going. Come next year, unfortunately, the same can't be said of these Ubisoft games.